Lincolnshire flower grower's plea to scrap "farcical" rules on EU workers

A director of Lincolnshire flower and bulb producer has revealed a recruitment nightmare leading to lost trade because he cannot get the workers he needs from abroad or even locally. Taylors Bulbs, based in Holbeach, is having to compete with other businesses and sectors to hire forklift drivers, engineers, tractor drivers, and experienced administrators. Staff shortages meant it did not export any daffodil cut flowers to the EU this Spring.

The Government has made 30,000 six-month visas available in 2021 to allow foreign nationals to work in the UK edible horticulture sector which included fruit and vegetable picking. That is 20,000 more than in 2020, but the problem firms like Taylors face is that the temporary visas do not cover flower pickers or tree-planters from overseas.

Now, the Horticultural Trades Association is demanding the Government extend the seasonal workers' scheme to include those who work in the ornamental sector.

Adam Taylor, director of Taylors Bulbs, said he foresees seasonal labor shortages continuing to be an issue. "For Taylors, it will continue way past the end of the furlough scheme - unemployment in the geographical area of our farm is low - we can’t move our production elsewhere - and there is a distinct lack of applicants due to the enormous competition from other businesses in the area.

"Some work such as cropping daffodil flowers has previously been fulfilled by people who jump from harvesting edible crops one day to ornamental the next. For a mixed agricultural and horticultural business such as ours to be denied the ability to employ the same EU worker to harvest all our crops also impacts our edible production as well. It’s farcical.”

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